California Proposition 14, the Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative
Sixteen years ago, California voters approved a $3 billion state bond issue for stem cell research. The money has all been spent and researchers drafted Proposition 14, a $5.5 billion bond for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Authorizes $5.5 billion in state general obligation bonds to fund grants from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to educational, non-profit, and private entities for: stem cell and other medical research, including training; stem cell therapy development and delivery; research facility construction; and associated administrative expenses.
Dedicates $1.5 billion to research and therapy for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, epilepsy, and other brain and central nervous system diseases and conditions.
- Appropriates General Fund monies to pay bond debt service.
From Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times:
"The initiative’s ambitious financial ask could remind voters that, for all its achievements, the program’s initial $3-billion expenditure has so far failed to yield a single marketable clinical product. That’s despite the sales pitch for Proposition 71 in 2004—that all that stood in the way of “cures” for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injuries and other maladies was money.
The initiative’s promoters also projected that taxpayers would reap a financial windfall from their spending — indeed, that the program would pay for itself by generating at least $14 billion from royalties and reduced health costs for California. That hasn’t happened, and the bar will be much higher for the proposed new borrowing. Assuming an interest rate of 5%, a 30-year, $5.5-billion bond would cost taxpayers $275 million in interest every year for three decades.
Robert Klein, the Initiative's sole funder, fails to set forth a clear justification for nearly doubling CIRM’s funding for the next 10 years. It places new restrictions on how the money can be spent, depriving CIRM’s governing board of the flexibility it needs to serve a science that is evolving at a dizzying pace."
Moreover, the proposal perpetuates the cardinal error of Proposition 71 of rendering the program virtually immune to legislative oversight, despite its immense demand on taxpayer resources. Like Proposition 71, the new measure bars the Legislature from making amendments without a 70% vote in both houses, almost certainly an unattainable goal."
Official Ballot Opposition: Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society "California faces an enormous budget deficit and proposals to slash high-priority social programs that benefit all of us by investing in healthcare, housing, jobs, education, and other pressing needs."